Monday March 18, 2013
Tamil hip-hop goes international
Aaryan Dinesh Kanagaratnam and MC Sai are taking it to the next level.
THE Tamil music scene is booming and in South India, composers are churning out songs for movie soundtracks and albums.
Riding on its wave of success, Tamilians around the world are beginning to tap into its potential.
Whether they are from Malaysia or England, these artists are beginning to make a name for themselves among the Tamil diaspora.
Hip-hop, which had its origins in the 70s, is loved by most of the youths around the world. Artistes like 50 Cent, the late Tupac Shakur, Busta Rhymes and Jay-Z are some of the most successful artist in this genre.
These days, we can see lots of hip-hop artistes rapping in their own language and rappers from countries like France, Germany and South Africa are beginning to stamp themselves in the international market.
Indians, especially Tamilians, have always enjoyed songs from movie soundtracks. Noted composers like AR Rahman, Yuvan Shankar Raja and Ilayaraja have a wide body of work, and an ardent fan following which is just as impressive.
Many doubted that Hip-hop and Tamil could be brought together.
Indians are used to listening Carnatic and melodious songs, but the prospect of listening rappers rhyming with Tamil words – some doubted its ability to go international.
Mathangi Arulpragasam, or better known as M.I.A., is a female Tamil rapper who has collaborated with many international acts like Jay-Z and Madonna. However, she only raps in English has never rapped in her mother tongue.
Such thought was quashed when rappers like Yogi B, Dr.Burn and Suresh Peters started to bust a rhyme in Tamil.
In 2006, the release of Vallavan by Yogi B and Natchatra built the foundations of Tamil Hip-hop and many youths begun to embrace the genre.
The influence has spread to Asia and Europe and we can see many of international Tamil hip-hop artist emerging every year.
MC Sai and Aaryan Dinesh Kanagaratnam are two artistes that are currently lighting up the International Tamil hip-hop scene.
Conquering the throne
Sairuban, better-known by his monicker MC Sai, has been in the scene for the past eight years. The 21-year-old rapper is under Rebelstar records and has just released his new album titled Simmasanam-The Throne.
Before the release of Simmasanam, he collaborated in 50 songs with several artist from Europe and Asia. Famed for his Tamil rap, the youngster is beginning to hit the right notes with the release of his new album.
Malaysia’s influence could be seen in MC Sai’s music as he is inspired by the music of Yogi B and Natchatra.
“As I grew up, one group that inspired me to do well in this genre is Yogi B and Natchatra,”
“I loved the way they made their music and to see youths supporting all their moves and singing to their tunes, that inspired to make the step up in hip-hop,”
Having performed in Malaysia several times, the London-based rapper performed at the Kuala Lumpur Indian Music Festival 2012 (KLIMF) and loved the whole experience.
“The whole idea of all the international artists gathering with all the local artists in the birthplace of Tamil hip hop was spectacular,”
“To see all the artists performing together, meeting, greeting and sharing each others experiences – It was priceless,” he said
MC Sai is currently producing an album and he said that he will launch it in Malaysia in the near future. MC Sai is going places with his music and he is beginning to spread Tamil hip-hop music around Europe with several other artist like Kadhal Viruz, Charles Bosco and Arjun.
The man behind Magudi
Aaryan Dinesh Kanagaratnam hit the big time when he produced a song with Oscar winning composer A.R. Rahman. Penning the song Magudi Magudi for the movie Kadal, the 31-year-old is beginning to make his presence felt in the Indian music industry.
Born in Sri Lanka, Dinesh fondly known as ADK said that the opportunity working with A.R. Rahman was a blessing in disguise.
“When it comes to music, A.R.Rahman has always inspired me. My interest for music grew after listening to songs from the movie Kadhalan,”
“When I first met A.R. Rahman in 2011, it was like a dream come true for me. I stood front of him like a zombie and didn’t utter a word,” said Dinesh who has produced five albums so far.
A cup of coffee settled him down and the rest was history. Other than Magudi, Dinesh is also famous for songs like Goka Pearu and U Ate My Money.
He first started off as a web interface engineer and later became creative director for an international advertising agency. He was inspired to take up rap when he listened to one of Yogi B and Natchatra’s song.
“In 2007, I was in my favourite saloon in Colombo listening to Madai Thiranthu on repeat for more than 20 times,”
“And it made me think, ‘what the hell is this, it’s brilliant!’,” he said.
Dinesh performed in KLIMF and recently, he performed together with MC Sai in the Tamil Rap and Poetry (TRAP) Concert in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur.
Future is bright
According to Dinesh, the response in Sri Lanka for hip-hop is not the same as in Malaysia.
“Sri Lankans are more catered towards pop and Baila music. We have many talented rappers in Sri Lanka but they have yet to penetrate the market,”
“Some have gone into pop but they are still passionate about the music. So far Krishan and I are the prominent Tamil rappers in Sri Lanka. In the years to come, I’m expecting more artist to join us,” he said.
In India, the genre developed when Yogi B and Natchatra launched Vallavan at Tamil Nadu and the response for it was superb. Youths around the state were crooning to their tunes and many composers were beginning to include hip-hop numbers into their soundtracks.
Inspired by the exploits of the Malaysian artist, Adhi and his crew Hiphop Thamizha are one of the most noted Tamil hip-hop groups in India.
Having just released their debut album Hiphop Thamizha, their hit song Clubbula Mabbula is dominating the radio airwaves in Tamil Nadu. Recently, Adhi collaborated with young composer, Anirudh Ravichendar for a song titled Ethir Neechal for the movie Ethir Neechal.
In Europe, the genre is beginning to take shape and MC Sai reckons is just the beginning.
“There are so many greater things to come in the near future for the European Tamil community,”
“All we need is the support from the fans and when it hits top gear, Tamil hip-hop is going to go places,” said the youngster.
For Dinesh, he is hoping that Tamil hip-hop will go global in the near future.
“I’m sure the whole Tamil hip-hop fraternity will unite and my dream is to see Tamil hip-hop on par with other international hip-hop acts.”
An enhanced version of this story appears in The Star's tablet edition, The Star Editor's Choice Sunday, March 17 issue.